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Villafranca in Lunigiana

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Inhabitants in 1991: 4.733

The municipal territory extends for 29,49 square kilometres on the narrowest point of the Val di Magra at the point of the influx of the river Bagnone, along the Cisa road. It became capital of the community in the 1800s and assumed the present day denomination in 1863.

The territory of Villafranca in Lunigiana was inhabited from the prehistoric era, as is attested by the stone statues found at Malgrate in the Filetto forests and at Fornoli, but the first certain historic note sets it successively to the year one thousand, when it was a Lordly dominion of the Malaspina. In 1221, at the division of the possessions among the various branches of the family, Villafranca went to Corrado I, called The Ancient, of the Spino Secco di Mulazzo branch, whose son Federico I founded the branch of Villafranca and was taken prisoner by the Ghibellini from Siena at Montaperti in 1260. Among the sons of Federico I was Corrado Malaspina cited by Dante in the Purgatory: another member of this branch of the Malaspina, Spinetta was Podesta of Pisa in 1393. For its strategic position Villafranca was the object of attacks by the Sforza in 1487, Giovanni dalla Bande Nere in 1524, and the Spanish in 1525. At the extinction of this branch of the Malaspina in the second half of the XVI century it passed with all its lands under the Modena Duchy of the Estensi who, except the period of the French domination remained Lords until the Unity of Italy. During the second world war, Villafranca suffered extremely heavy bombardments. The capital is the Seat of an important Ethnografic Museum.

Places to visit:
Ethnografic Museum of Lunigiana, has its Seat in an ancient Mill and collects document and material of the traditional culture of the territory.
S. Francesco, 1500s church the interior preserves a precious Robbiane terracotta.

Historical info reproduced upon authorization of Regione Toscana - Dipartimento della Presidenza E Affari Legislativi e Giuridici
Translated by Ann Mountford

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